This post originally appeared on the Front End of Innovation Blog.
Fact: Women buy (products made by men)
Over 10,000 working hours and more than 1500 women worldwide were involved in a unique research study, which analyzed female tech-preferences and how to best embrace these insights within product development.

This masterclass will present the results of a 3-year design research program called "female interaction" co-financed by the Danish Governments program for user-driven innovation - a cross disciplinary project bringing together scientists, designers and innovation experts from 3 leading tech companies: Bang & Olufsen, GN Netcom and Danfoss.
In this Webinar, you'll learn:
  • Womenomics Trends Data: Female business insights and the innovation potential overseen in the (tech) industry
  • Made by Men, Bought by Women:  How does a  female's approach to technology differ from a male's?
  • Female Interaction Principles for Making the Female Tech Approach Operational:  Go beyond pink
  • 4 Female Tech User Profiles: Ways to avoid stereotypic gendered thinking and tools to enhance user focus
  • Case study Illustrating Potential for User-experience Innovation: How  to redesign a specific tech-product (a mobile headset from Jabra) based on insights from female values and a female approach to technology
  • Female Innovation Strategy Outline: How to meet the preferences of the female users and consumers through innovative research & design process
Presenter:  Klaus Schroeder, Design-Director & Partner, Head of Female Interaction Research
Space is limited! Register today!

Date: Wed, Jan 11, 2012 
Time: 12:00 PM EST 
Duration: 1 hour 
Host(s): Front End of Innovation 
Klaus Schroeder is design director and partner at – an international Danish design consultancy specialised in advanced interaction design. Klaus Schroeder holds a Master degree in Industrial design from Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Braunschweig. Klaus combines successful and award winning international design results for the industry with research in the field of interaction and user-experience design and he serves as lecturer and an appointed examiner at different Design Schools.
As head of the 3-year long ”Female Interaction” design research project, co-financed by the Danish Government’s program for user-driven innovation, Klaus Schroeder has become an authority within the field of gendered innovation and gender specific design and has advised both in the United Nations and the European Union.

Jonah Lehrer is one of those unique individuals who can discuss the frontal cortex of the brain in a way that's interesting enough to land him an appearance as a guest on the Stephen Colbert Show. His age places him in the gray area between Gen X-Yers and Millenials which makes him a pop-culture thinker at the forefront of a generation inundated with gadgets and devices and defined by social media.  Jonah Lehrer will be speaking for us this year at FUSE. He is also a noted "provovateur" at the Creative Leadership Academy.

I hand it to Double Triple - on the design of Lehrer's website. I wanted to write a bit about Jonah for this blog and the site gives a one page immediate experience as to what he is all about. I can't really top what they did so check that out here (Jonah Lehrer's website).

Jonah Lehrer's style and approach is reminiscent of one of his strong supporters, Malcolm Gladwell, who's made many appearances at our events. Both have written for The New Yorker.  And they both come from academic backgrounds that would most likely either bore or confuse the pants off of the rest of us. But they share a very powerful trait. They have both integrated their intellectual backgrounds into popular culture so that the rest of us can share in their brilliance. Looking forward to seeing Jonah at the FUSE event this year!
"In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing to do. The worst thing you can do is nothing." - Theodore Roosevelt 

The Creative Leadership Academy proudly unveils its Incentive Program. The 3-day holistic experience begins the second you enroll.

Here's what you get:
Enroll by 12/9:
Bundled package of executive summaries from the industry's best events: Front End of Innovation US & Europe, FUSE: Brand Identity & Package Design, Future Trends and The Market Research Event
Benefit: Share this year's design, innovation, and market research findings with your internal colleagues.

Enroll by 12/16: A hard copy of Andy Stefanovich's book: Look At More. Plus enter our CLA lottery to win a personal meeting with Andy Stefanovich, Chief Provocateur, Prophet
Benefit: Develop your company's brand and marketing strategy with a private meeting with Andy. Access your ability to balance short-term business needs against longer-term growth goals.

Enroll by 12/23: Inspiration Kit with inspiration doses and new lessons to follow. Plus e-books from CLA's Authored Provocateurs
Benefit: Test your right-brain skills and prepare your mind to challenge what's already there.

Enroll by 1/6: Video content from the best Keynote talks at Front End of Innovation US & Europe, FUSE: Brand Identity & Package Design, Future Trends and The Market Research Event
Benefit: Access our extensive database of Keynote presentations.

Enroll by 1/11: Post-Academy web seminar
Benefit: Continue your personal and professional creative development and get a glimpse of the next Academy line-up.

Here's how it works:
• Enroll by December 9th and receive offers 1+2+3+4+5
• Enroll by December 16th and receive offers from 2+3+4+5
• Enroll by December 23rd and receive offers 3+4+5
• Enroll by January 6th and receive offers 4+5
• Enroll by January 11th and receive offer 5

Enroll early and get the most value out of your 2012 investment.

Your CLA Team
* Tuition must be paid in full to participate in the incentive program.

Download the syllabus to learn more.

Engage with us. Join our communities to begin learning now:
This weekend I paid a visit to the 20th annual Holiday Train Show at the NY Botanical Garden. This NYC tradition features more than 140 miniature replicas of city landmarks. Each year more buildings are added; including various historic mansions, the old Pennsylvania station, Yankee Stadium, the Guggenheim museum and the Rose Center for Earth and Space. Each building is constructed out of natural materials like bark, leaves, twigs, fungi and nuts.

More than just a testament to some of the unique architecture that the city contains, the show pays tribute to creativity. Maybe I am just preoccupied by the upcoming Creative Leadership Academy, but I can't help but think that the act having to create these sculptures with very limited materials actually drives the end result to be much more interesting.

This year's event featured a new section "The Artists Studio" that gave an insider look at the process behind the finished product.
First the core structures are built.

Various plant life supplies for building.

The finished product.

You can also view a time-lapse video of NYBG's "Applied Imagination" staff putting together the exhibit here.

Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA with a specialization in marketing. Know of a design event or project we should cover, or want to submit a guest post? Email
Creativity has become synonymous with innovation. Innovation is the difference between thriving in this challenged economy and slipping further into extinction.

In a recent IBM study of 1,500 CEOs from 60 countries and 33 industries, the number one leadership competency of the future was cited as "creativity". That's because as the world becomes more complex, the ability to solve problems requires a creative approach to overcoming obstacles by thinking differently.

We're not just talking about blue skies, design and artistic applications. We're talking about the ability to tackle tough challenges by avoiding the obvious.
Incremental is not enough! Today's leadership calls for breakthrough. Wall street pressures are at an all time high, everyone from designers to line of business leaders need to retrain their minds to exercise both right AND left brain thinking.

Introducing a professional development solution that's answering the call to action in what many are calling the "creative state of crisis" : CLA.

To experience a little of what CLA is about, participate in lesson 4.

Better defined results and solutions. Creative problem solving requires attention to detail that you may have skimmed over in the past. By focusing on the details of the problem, we can create a more defined solution and a more defined action.

Enrollment limited to 150 . Sign up today to begin your journey January 16-18, 2012 at The Creative Leadership Academy.

Download the syllabus to learn more.

Engage with us. Join our communities to begin learning now:
In an upcoming webinar, "Tips for Building a Branded Social Game," sponsored by Vitrue, we'll explore one of marketing's fastest growing fields: social gaming, including how to simplify and beautify branded games.

Beyond the visible popularity of online social games such as Zynga’s FarmVille and Mafia Wars, social gaming while users are engaged with Facebook continues to grow as a tremendous marketing opportunity with approximately 320 million users playing social games each month.

In Vitrue's webinar on Tips for Building a Branded Social Game, learn best practices on how to increase engagement, acquire more fans and more all through the integration of your brand into a social game.

We'll show live examples of games, discuss the technique that they implement, including leaderboards, challenge-a-friend, in-game charitable giving, sweepstakes, giveaways and coupon integration. We'll also cover how to Simplify and Beautify your branded games. Talk will also include the pros and cons of building your own game versus trying to integrate with an existing mega-popular social game.

Register for this free session with priority code MWJ0012-BLOG here:

Plus, if you are using or considering using Facebook in your marketing campaigns, join us for this upcoming session:
How to Identify & Acquire 500,000 Customers on Facebook in 120 Days While Tracking and Maximizing Your ROI

This case study presentation will demonstrate a data-driven approach to identifying and acquiring your ideal customer on Facebook and effectively measuring ROI for your Facebook marketing initiatives. We will discuss:

• Why most brands are failing on Facebook
• Using deep data profiling to reach and expand your customer base on Facebook
• Understanding Noise and Connectivity and how they affect your brand's ability to communicate on Facebook
• Monitoring and Maximizing your brand's ROI for your Facebook marketing campaigns

Register here:
Last week I had the pleasure of attending an insight event presented by design consultancy Pearlfisher, exploring "The Future of Taste."

Pearlfisher had recently conducted a study on shifts in the world of food and drink and we were able to explore their insights through short videos and case studies on not only where we stand, but how we can use that insight to inspire new design.

Three main culture shifts were identified during the study:

- The desire for a healthier and more wholesome world, reconnecting with the origins of food and moving away from more commercialized options that the industrialized world has presented us with
From the origins of the moment with Alice Waters to food co-ops like The People's Supermarket and farmer's markets, there is a moment towards reconnecting with ingredients and finding a fun way to retrain ourselves how to eat healthily. This doesn't mean that we have to ignore design, but rather that design should reflect natural inspirations.

- The embrace of rich, time-honored experiences that center around food and food culture
Would you pay $10,000 for a six to eight week training in the art of butchery? Some meat fans would and do. On a more veggie-friendly note, do you savor the experience of taking a whole afternoon to cook your grandmother's tomato sauce recipe?  These food experiences are our heritage and in the spirit of reconnecting with ingredients, there is also a movement towards reconnecting with process and the past and that too can be reflected in design, but with a twist for a digital age.  

- A renaissance of creativity, and the mixing of art and fashion with food
Not everything is about organic sustainable farming, how about getting some hardcore Ice Cream at London's The Icecreamists or dining elevated high above city streets? Consumers may be moving away from quick, fast-food experiences, but that doesn't mean every meal has to be a hand made rustic salad, to the contrary, it opens up a desire for high-quality, immersive unique experiences. In this arena the world of Taste meets art and fashion for fun, sometimes edgy results.

With these themes in mind, Pearlfisher then created a case study brand that represented some aspect of insight into the future of taste. From the move towards natural, healthy choices came "Dirty Food," a program that educates children on growing food and reconnects us with the best that the natural world has to offer.

The logo was created with potato stamps to get the natural shapes desired.

From the embrace of heritage comes "Preserve," a digital community that saves the best food experiences our ancestors have to offer.

Cookbooks and packaging mantain a heritage, home-made feel.

Lastly from the meeting place between food and fashion came "Seasonaire" - an avant-garde, exclusive experience that operates as a fashion line with Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter offerings. In this design haute couture touches elevate this brand to something deeply special.

Overall it was an inspiring experience to see the insight process in action. What inspires you?
Wall Street pressures are at an all-time high and incremental isn’t cutting it. Stakeholders expect dramatic results. The buzzword du jour is “different”.

Where do you go to learn to think different… to be different… to deliver different?

Enter The Creative Leadership Academy (CLA), brought to you by the world’s largest business to business information company IIR, an Informa company. Some brands you might recognize are FEI, The Market Research Event, Shopper Insights in Action, and FUSE.

CLA is unique from anything else we do or anything else out there. It’s holistic in design and 100% engineered to be actionable. It is not a conference, it is not training, and it is not a commercial platform. There are no exhibition booths, no pay to speak vendor sessions, and no excuses. It is 100% driven by pure content and instructional education in play.

To ensure individual goals are achieved and personalized attention is afforded all academy participants will complete a LEAF creativity assessment in conjunction with our academy partner Binghamton University prior to attending. The onsite LEAF workshop will address your specific areas of growth and opportunity.

You will learn by hearing.

The syllabus starts with real world business cases that demonstrate creativity in practice and directly link back to business results.

You will believe by seeing.

Second, you engage with the world’s most passionate and provocative thinkers including Dan Pink and Jonah Lehrer. These provocateurs expand your mind and encourage a creative flow allowing for the creative process to begin. These sessions stimulate your thinking.

You will achieve by doing.

And third, YOU become a creator through hands on sessions run by qualified instructors including a flavor scientist, food stylist and storytelling expert.

Creativity isn’t restricted to any one industry or discipline. Creativity is the core competency every business leader needs to be able to solve problems in an increasingly complex world.

We believe that we’ve curated a sensorially balanced, rigorous experience that inspires, provokes, proves and DEVELOPS creative talent for ALL leaders – those who want to become creative and those wanting to become MORE creative.

In a world where creativity is a leadership requirement, it’s reassuring to know that Creativity can be taught. Enrollment limited to 150.

Click here to enroll.

View Full Syllabus.

Learn with us, join the community:

As part of IIR's ongoing marketing webinar series, we'd like to invite you to join us for for “Choosing a name with confidence using new research techniques” on Thursday, October 27, 2011 from 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM EDT

Reserve your Webinar seat now at:
Use priority code MWS0043TwitterBlog when registering

Selecting the right name for your product or service is one of the most important decisions a company can make – yet many traditional naming research studies create more questions than confidence. Can we risk something abstract? Does your category call for a name that is literal? In addition, what does well in brainstorming or qualitative might not pass muster with a broader audience who may be rating a name purely on appeal. 

With this webinar, BuzzBack invites you to learn new techniques for naming. Through case studies, we'll demonstrate how you can integrate online qualitative techniques with scores and quantitative metrics to understand:
• what your name communicates and why
• visuals and imagery associated with the name
• emotional reactions elicited
• how memorable your name is 

Featured Speaker: Brendan Light, SVP, Research & Development, BuzzBack Market Research 

Plus, on Thursday, November 3rd, join IIR and Autonomy for “Understanding the Voice of the Customer: How to Effectively Gather and Leverage Customer Insight from Multiple Channels to Deliver a Superior Customer Experience”

Voice of the Customer is not just about surveys anymore. Customers are interacting with your brand through multiple channels including the website, retail store, contact center and even social media. You have to understand all of these multichannel interactions collectively to develop a complete Voice of the Customer.

Join us on this webcast and learn how you can easily gather and leverage data from all customer touchpoints to deliver a superior multichannel customer experience. Learn how you can easily:
• Collect real-time customer insight across channels
• Discover and act upon emerging customer trends
• Deliver a more personal and targeted customer experience
• Increase customer loyalty and reduce churn
Register here:

Then, on Tues, Nov 15, 2011 at 1:00 PM EST join us for ”Targeting: How to Effectively Reach the Unidentified 90% of Your Audience”

Targeting works. There is no question that by aligning content to known segments, marketers can dramatically increase conversion rates and maximize revenue. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of your overall audience is known. So how do you effectively reach the other 90% and boost your marketing revenue exponentially? Data offers a potential solution, but also adds a problem. More data doesn’t mean more insight. In fact, it can lead to more confusion. However, by developing a conceptual understanding of your data, you can use your marketing initiatives to generate truly actionable insights and create smarter segments for greater success.

Find out how to discover high value segments and the best way to optimize against these segments over time to maximize response. Learn how you can efficiently leverage insights from all your marketing channels to transform the effectiveness of your initiatives for the highest return on spend.
Mallika Chakravarti, Subject Matter Expert, Autonomy
Annie Weinberger, VP Marketing
Register here

Ben Blumenfeld of Facebook at FUSE 2011 from IIR USA on Vimeo.

FUSE 2012 is in the works, but in the meantime, let's take a look back at some of the great moments of the 2011 event.

This year at FUSE, Ben Blumenfeld discussed the way designers at Facebook allow the company to be more impactful. We got a chance to chat with him quickly about his event experience and his thoughts on the future of design. Check out the video here for his thoughts, or head over to the FUSE homepage to see live footage from his session. You can also visit our FUSE channel on Vimeo to catch up on all our FUSE footage.

What are your predictions for the next 15 years? Share with us in the comments.
With the 2011 Private Brand Movement event now behind us, we'd like to take a moment to invite you to participate in our year-round online communities. For continuous Private Brand coverage, follow @Private_brand on twitter, or join our LinkedIn Community to connect with Private Brand professionals from around the world.

This year's conference generated a lot of great reflections, including our own coverage by guest bloggers Aaron Keller of Capsule and Larry McManis of ThinkWay Strategies which you can find here:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
As well as coverage by several other media outlets.

Private Label Buyer reported on our panel discussion "The Future of Owned Brands Amidst Economic Revival," writing about the ways, "social media has changed the way private brands do business. "

Progressive Grocer Store Brands covered the conference in their articles "New Era for U.S. Store Brands" and "Engage Consumers Through Design" and Supermarket News remarked on a trend towards investments in private-label packaging and Safeway's new private-brand innovation model. Retailwire also covered the Safeway session in their piece "BrainTrust Query: Brand as They Say, Not as They Do." And, of course, there is more content to be found on conference chair Christopher Durham's website

What were your thoughts about the event? Did you blog about the experience? Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you in 2012!
While sitting at the Private Brand Conference, listening, learning and discussing we had many interesting thoughts about how brands lead, the role of private brands, the differences and about how we as consumers of brands become educated.

It was once stated to me by a veteran marketer that "educating the consumer" is expensive and he wanted nothing to do with it. I nodded my head in a basic understanding kind of way, then set out to explore it further. Consider the old story of McDonalds vs Burger King and how they both determine a location to put the next burger joint.

McDonald's has a large department of smart, expensive people to identify the exact place and time when and where a McDonald's restaurant should appear.

Burger King puts one right across the street from every McDonald's. Simple, genius and inexpensive.

The difference?

Leadership often requires a brand to take on a teaching role. Consider a new product / brand entering the market as a way to look at this idea.

Maybe its a new food item. The leading brand has to educate the potential pool of shoppers on how to use it, when to serve it, who would like it and all the other essentials.

Or the easier one to consider is a new technology. Like a portable tablet from Apple [think iPad]. Apple has the obligation to teach people how to use it, what it works nicely for, and all the other details that come from ownership.

But, the obligation of teaching in a leadership role comes with benefits, right? Certainly does.

If you train someone on how to interface with a tablet, you set the standard. And, if you had an Apple product first and then interacted with any other tablet or smartphone from other manufacturers you immediately sense what's missing. Apple ruins you for any other similar technology. Same goes for a food item if done right, or any other leader who takes the position and educates the consumer to their unique offering.

So what does this mean for private brands?

The additional margin gained by investing in a private brand could easily go to the bottom line, investors, members or promoting other categories. Or, it could go into leading the category. It likely doesn't mean coming out with the next iPad, but it could mean taking a leadership position after a certain amount of maturity in the category.

Education is expensive, early on yes. But after the category matures, incremental innovation requires less education and creates an opportunity for private brands to lead. Not as the least expensive, but as the most usable, visually appealing, or shopper centered.

Consider this when you're putting together your private brand strategy.

Leadership is how you define it and when you achieve it.


And, with this we would like to thank The Private Brand Conference coordinators, My Private Brand and all the talented speakers who contributed great content, thinking, visual eye candy and inspiration for the attendees.

We hope to see you all someday soon.

Managing Principal

Edumacation is my idea of funny.

If you've enjoyed our posts, we hope to be back next year and in the mean time you can find more at the Capsule Blog (

We have been asking ourselves the difference between a private / store / retailer brand and a standard everyday brand [not that any brand would allow themselves to be described in such a way].

Best Buy's Rick Rommel gave us an exceptional, historical view of their private brand stories and clearly articulated their challenges and successes with four store owned brands. Their brands have all the same attributes you would associate with a brand [customer service, package, technical support, returns, product testing, brand name, etc.]. It was even asked, how many customers of Best Buy see their brands as owned by Best Buy?

REI and Sears gave us the details behind their store brands and the important role of design, testing and delivering on a promise. In both cases it would appear we have brands first that are labeled as retailer / store / private brands because of who owns the asset.

None of this gets to a difference. So, we ask again, what is the difference between a store brand and any other brand? Who owns the asset?

Here's one theory we'd like to discuss.

Store brands are different because they often have to be designed to cross a variety of unrelated categories. This built in need originates with a requirement to achieve a certain efficiency and rate of return for the owner. This behavior for brands isn't new though, many brands in Japan stretch across a variety of unrelated categories [Sony, Honda, etc].

This theory obviously isn't bullet proof, so we'd like to hear other views.

Is it as simple as who owns the brand asset? Is it a matter of limited budgets? Is it that a store brand has to cross diverse categories? Or is it just that we have distinguished them because of the intense relationship between manufacturers and retailers. By labeling them in such a way, they can be given less emphasis, less budget, less design and less attention?

Answer the question, what is the difference? Store brand vs manufacturers brand.

Managing Principal
Maybe you've heard this tagline: Story Matters Here. It’s day 2 of Private Brand Movement, a conference being held at the Sheraton Towers in Chicago. Although I have a lot on my mind, for example my youngest daughter is getting married this weekend, I was drawn in to the presentations and conversations. I’ve been to a few conferences sponsored by IIR USA and they always seem to land the best and brightest when it comes to speakers. This appears to be no exception.

The title summarizes nicely what I heard today. Each presentation seemed to reinforce it: Design Attracts, Story Connects. Said another way, excellent design is very, very necessary… but not really sufficient. Story, the story of your brand, connects consumers… hopefully sufficient enough to bring emotion to an otherwise dull, uninspiring and likely price-driven transaction.

Harry Pearce, Partner at Pentagram, had three words (principles, really) to say it in his own way: Truth, Clarity and Emotion drive excellent design. Then he gave examples of how design became the way to tell a new private brand story to consumers at three different retailers: Halfords, The Cooperative and Budgens. And each of these saw dramatic increases in their results.

Carla Cooper, CEO at Damon Worldwide had three different (but sort of similar) words to build timeless brands: Simple, Better, Different. She then led us through similar success stories in her experience working on iconic brands such as Coca Cola and Kellogg’s. CPG’s like these, she says, have something many private brands lack: a brand building mentality fully focused on the consumer (i.e., telling the brand story).

Maybe you heard a similar theme if you sat in on Koen de Jong’s presentation that spoke of the private brand advantage over CPG’s in innovating and time to market. Or perhaps you heard Carol Best of Anthem explain how private brands need to go from emulating to innovating. One of my favorites of the afternoon was Jeff Fagel, Director of Brand Development at Sears Holdings, explain Kmart’s journey to meet three challenges: 1) How to get people to pay attention; 2) How to get people to care; and 3) How to get people to act. They’ve focused on design (did you know Kmart has a design team of over 250 people in Soho and Chicago?) for sure. But they also spent an enormous amount of time and energy recreating and retelling the story of the Kmart brand.

Through these presentations and the stories behind them, the private brand challenge became clearer today than it was before the conference began. It’s not only about creating design that attracts, it’s also about creating content that has emotion and connects. Yes, design attracts and therefore needs to be excellent. But story communicates emotionally and therefore connects. If you’re a private brand, or any brand really, what’s your story? I’m headed back to focus on preparations for my daughter’s wedding this weekend. Share your story by commenting or send me an email. If you don’t have my email address, go to my website and connect with me there. I really want to hear your story. Story matters. It’s what enables us to connect.

Larry McManis, President & CEO
ThinkWay Strategies
When someone steps up and does it right, they get their own post. Kelly Kraus from REI did it right.

Kelly started by saying we could let our minds wander if it happened, but she didn't allow it. She fed us an intellectual buffet. We gathered a lot of the same stats we've seen with others, but more important we got something I personally wouldn't have expected to see for the first time from this retailer. Nothing against REI, just a wonderful surprise to see them give the crowd an NPV on their Private Brand investment. If you're not aware, NPV stands for Net Present Value and it is a solid method to measure an investment. And, it worked.

Inspiring to see financial numbers being blended with the emotional rewards of outdoor brands. Here are some of her other key messages, filtered through my head.

> REI is about inspiring, educating and outfitting; the strategy starts there.

> They have seen a 11% incremental gross margin added to bottom line. Oddly similar to the price for marketing / sales in a manufacturer brand.

> Benchmarks they used included Decathlon which has 70% of its sales in Private Brands in a 3 billion retailer. Macy's as the other benchmark, but didn't have as much to offer in my view.

> They had a plan and it started with executive support. Hard to consider this brilliant, but how often is it missed? So, fundamental and done culturally correct they took things off the table.

> RASCI: Ratifier, accountable, support, consult and inform. I can't go deep what all these did or meant, but it made complete sense for what this division was doing.

> The NPV was $13,309,013. That's 13 million+, but yes they did take it down to the 13 dollars.

> The best part: Kelly didn't go into the actual strategy. She kept it to herself, whether worked out completely or not, she kept her presentation tight and filled with solid content. For that we are appreciative.

Thank you Kelly for taking to a place we had not expected to see. Thank you for NOT letting our minds wander.

Managing Principal

Section two, from Eleven to Three in the afternoon. Carla gets us started, Jon takes us to Three.

Carla Cooper from Daymon worldwide started with an iconic brand [Coca-Cola]. She was there when New Coke came out. The phone lines lit up when it came out. Taste profile preference was sweeter, they didn't ask what would you do if the existing Coke was not available. Coca-Cola classic was introduced to our world. It was a mistake, confirmed by Carla. Good to know even the largest brand in the world isn't perfect.

Author Koen de Jong, Author of Private Label Uncovered gave us the second of our midday presentations. He was plentiful in his content which is always good for a keynote.

Lunch, now we get to eat and connect some more.

Jon Weber from Soma beverage gave us emotional value. One of the early statements he made, "necessity is the mother of invention." We agree. But we also wonder.

Who is the grandmother of invention? Think about it.

Back to Jon and his mint beverage. Who would say 5 years ago, let's start a new water brand? I wouldn't have invested in a new water brand. But, he did it and I wish I knew Jon back when he did it because he made something of value from a bottle of mint infused water. He made a brand. And he is a proud father of that brand, he even glows when he talks about the dots and "standing out like a sore thumb." Thank you Jon you were a great way to finish up the midday.

Managing Principal
The morning started off with an eye opening set of three speakers.

Christopher Durham from My Private Brand started us off with a broad brush about thinking first about the brands we own and our obligation to build stronger brands. Then consider the advantage they offer as private brands.

Todd Hale from Nielson took the stage next and dropped us into a vat of trends extrapolated from data he translated into valuable information. This kept us all writing, thinking and considering how we can use this information. Then, similar to Christopher, we were served up a plate full of eye candy.

Harry Pierce of Pentagram was up third, but our first taste of an English accent. His design stories [Halfords, The Cooperative and Budgens] and emphasis on typography were appreciated by the design eyes in the room. His stories of pushing design to permeate a corporation were appreciated by those in the trenches [you know who you are].

The morning was a good balance of hardy statistics and flavorful eye candy. Nourishing but also good for the sweet tooth we all have for design. Looking forward to a midday with Carla from Daymon Worldwide, Koen from IPLC, Betsy from Michaels and Jeff from Sears.

Managing Principal

We used to understand there were two kinds of reasoning: deductive and inductive. Then we heard about a new type of reasoning: abductive – the ability to take incomplete information and proceed to the likeliest possible explanation (Einstein’s work, for example, was not only deductive and inductive but also abductive: creative conclusions about time and space that required leaps of imagination). All three types of reasoning can be used in a system called design thinking to solve knotty problems and meet new challenges. Monday afternoon at the Private Brand Movement sponsored by IIR USA we got a taste of the best of all types of thinking.

The business world is replete with deductive, analytical thinkers. But Rob Wallace of Wallace Church wonders if analytical thinking has turned innovation into iteration: easy, near-in, me-too types of line and brand extensions. So, in his excellent presentation, Design Thinking Driven Innovation, we got a taste of thinking differently. Through the application of design thinking, we can not only design products for the known unmet needs of consumers (e.g., Apple’s desktop computer, Dyson’s vacuum), we can also think differently to design products for consumers to meet needs they don’t even know they have (e.g., Apple’s iPhone, P&G’s Swiffer)!

The best design thinkers are the ones that can bridge the world of the creative at the front end of innovation with the world of analytical thinking at the commercialization end of value creation. Two such thinkers were on center-stage in the afternoon: Matt Rompala of Avery Dennison and Connie Walsh of Staples.

Matt provided several examples of how Avery Dennison used design thinking to enable product launches that had strong consumer appeal, unique package design and excellent supply chain cost savings (more examples can be seen at Connie laid out great thinking in four areas (quality, value, sourcing, and innovation) and how Staples has driven innovation into previously inactive product categories to drive new value.

But Patrick Hanlon, CEO & Founder of Thinktopia and author of the book Primal Branding, opened us up to thinking beyond our own brands. Beginning by sharing examples of global change and social challenges, he also shared the principle of hyperdyatic spread – how it’s possible for you personally to influence your friend’s friend’s friend: three degrees of influence (when you share with one friend, you reach 100). Given this awesome power to influence, isn’t it possible to think beyond ourselves and our brands to address global issues to benefit real people with real needs? If so, Patrick’s presentation title, Something Wonderful is About to Happen, may be true.

Larry McManis, President & CEO
The Private Brand Conference started off with a pre-conference day [monday] that was anything but pre. It was a plentiful day.

Paco Underhill started us off in the pre-conference on Monday. It is hard to think of a better way to start the day than listening to a leading thinker in retail consumer behavior research. Most of the people in business use buzz words, Paco makes buzz words. If that doesn't help you consider how influential Paco is, read his book "Why We Buy" and you'll find yourself seeking out his next speaking event.

Kitty Hart with Paco Underhill

The rest of the day speakers passed the baton and kept the conversation going. From Mark Andeer talking about OfficeMax redefining what a private brand can accomplish to Patrick Hanlon talking about the changes we face today in a consumption driven society. More important, when we did have breaks, the conversations were wonderful. This happens when impressive thinkers get together to listen, learn, converse and connect.

The first day could not have been a better place for walking away knowing you are smarter, further connected and more fulfilled than you were one day previous. If you missed it find someone who was there and ask them what they learned.

Now that we've had a bountiful appetizer let's get to the main meal on Tuesday.

Enjoy your day.

Managing Principal
I have always been viscerally anti-status quo so change and innovation are of particular importance to me. And there is no doubt there's a lot of change when it comes to the increasing importance of private brands in the lives of consumers triggered by the "Black Swan" economic shift of the last few years.

With his usual dose of alacrity, Paco Underhill, notable author of Why We Buy and What Women Want and CEO of Envirosell, launched the Private Brand Movement conference sponsored by IIR USA. Laying out some key principles of packaging and selling in the 21st century (e.g., consider purchase frequency, emotional attachment, facilitate the sale, consider context, functionality first - pretty second), it became clear there is a significant change taking place in shopping requiring a marriage of consumer research and packaging design that hasn't been seen before.

And then Mark Andeer, VP Brand Strategy at OfficeMax showed how they have created and designed a private brand (check out these fashionable file folders), reached millions of consumers (are you one of the more than 400 million that have visited ElfYourself?) and grown their private brand business in a down economy. Not an insignificant accomplishment.

So, are Private Brands poised for a breakthrough with consumers? With the innovation we've seen so far, many people here would likely say 'yes'. Hmmm... I wonder. I'm looking forward to hearing more.

Larry McManis, President & CEO
ThinkWay Strategies
Over the past several weeks leading up to the Private Brand Movement, we've been featuring a series of posts on the key principles of retail branding by Jonathan Ford, Creative Partner at Pearlfisher.

Jonathan will be presenting "'Design for Life' - Creating a New Design Language for Health and Wellbeing in the Retail Sector" alongside Maggie Hodgetts of Waitrose this Wednesday September 21st at The Private Brand Movement conference in Chicago. To see Jonathan's past posts showing the complete principles of retail branding please click here.

Today as The Private Brand Movement kicks off, I have the pleasure of sharing a new episode of our Private Brand Pulse podcast series, wherein I conducted a phone interview with Jonathan about the Waitrose LOVE Life brand and the new design language for health and wellbeing.
Listen to the podcast here.

Don't miss Jonathan and Maggie Hodgetts of Waitrose this Wednesday, Sept 21st at the Private Brand Movement in Chicago. For live coverage of the event, click here.

Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA with a specialization in marketing. She may be reached at

Event Date: April 18-20, 2012

Location: JW Marriott, Chicago, IL

Submit a proposal to speak at the top industry event for brand strategists and designers.

The deadline has been extended to Wednesday, September 21st, 2011.

Your Opportunity

Production has begun for FUSE 2012. A top destination for designers, brand strategists and trend hunters, FUSE reveals extraordinary ideas about design, culture, branding and packaging. The FUSE experience will empower you to connect more meaningfully with your consumer through design and brand strategy.

Be informed. Be inspired. Build camaraderie.

We are actively recruiting speakers to bring FUSE to life in 2012. The submission deadline is Wednesday, September 21, 2011. Proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis so early submission is encouraged.

Added Bonus: All speakers will receive complimentary admission to the entire event (a $3,000+ value).

The Crowd: Each year, hundreds of leaders converge at FUSE to advance their brands, businesses and careers...and to get inspired by our speakers' stories. Attendees have a diverse set of expertise - graphic design, marketing strategy, brand management, package design, art direction, structural design, consumer insights, trend forecasting and design research. Industries represented include consumer packaged goods, retail, industrial manufacturing, technology, financial services and health care among others.

Presentation Options - These content areas will be addressed at FUSE 2012

Design & Creative

Brand Marketing & Strategy

Trends & Insights

Global Design & Branding

Social Media


Packaging Research

New for 2012:

Industrial Design

Digital Design

Please do not feel limited by the list above. We are also happy to consider topics not listed here that you feel would add value and be appropriate.

Formats include

Standard presentation (30 - 45 minutes long)

Interactive ideation and brainstorming sessions to engage the audience in discussion (30 - 45 minutes long)

Panel with 3 - 4 people debating/discussing a particular topic (30 - 45 minutes long)

Speaker Benefits

Why do speakers want to be a part of FUSE? To:

Advance the purpose and value of using design to tell a brand's story

Position their company as one that values brand identity and design

Reinforce their own position as a leader

Share results of an exciting project

Network with other industry leaders and participate in high-level discussions

Submission Guidelines & Deadline

For consideration, please email Krista Vazquez at with the following information by Wednesday, September 21, 2011.

Proposed speaker name(s), job title(s), and company name(s)

Contact information including address, phone and e-mail

Title of presentation

Brief overview of the presentation (1 short paragraph plus 2 bullets that illustrate audience takeaways): Please note: if your proposal is selected, portions of this description will be printed in the brochure and used online to promote your participation

Brief speaker biography

Special Notice to Vendors, Consultants & Solution Providers

Whether you are looking to build awareness, generate new business or strengthen existing relationships- a presence at FUSE will help you achieve your goals. Be at the right place at the right time. A limited number of sessions on the program are reserved for our event sponsors. Solution providers who wish to become part of the program should contact Sarene Yablonsky at at 646-895-7474 or

Due to the high volume of responses, we are unable to respond to each submission. All those selected to participate as speakers will be notified shortly after the deadline.

Thank you for your interest in FUSE. Check back for updates on the program at

All the best,

The FUSE Event Team

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